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Robonaut Applications


Robonaut 2 Technologies Available for Licensing

For use in logistics and distribution, medical and industrial robotics, and hazardous, toxic, or remote environments

Researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2 is made up of multiple component technologies and systems -- vision systems, image recognition systems, sensor integrations, tendon hands, control algorithms, and much more. R2's nearly 50 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be game-changers in multiple industries, including logistics and distribution, medical and industrial robotics, as well as hazardous, toxic, or remote environments.

For more information, contact:

Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office
NASA’s Johnson Space Center (link opens new browser window)

› Learn more about the R2 licensing opportunity in this webcast.

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What Makes R2 Unique?

State-of-the-Art Systems

The robot encompasses four elemental systems.

  • Hands: R2's unprecedented dexterity in its hands allows it to use many of the same tools that astronauts and industry workers currently use, significantly reducing the need for specialized tools to perform multiple tasks.
  • Arms: R2's arms are soft at multiple levels and the robot always knows where its limbs are in space. They have redundant force sensing and R2 can safely work side-by-side with humans as it is currently doing on-board the International Space Station.
  • Sensing and Perception: R2 shares senses similar to humans: the ability to touch and see. These senses allow it to perform in ways that are not typical for robots today.
  • Interface and Control: R2 can function autonomously or it can be controlled by direct teleoperation. When functioning autonomously, R2 understands what to do and how to do it based on sensory input. The robot uses its vision, force, and tactile sensing to carry out tasks in real time.

robonaut using toolsExtraordinary Dexterity

The robot has the flexibility to use human tools and adapt to the task at hand, whether serving as an assistant or stand-in for astronauts during spacewalks or handling tasks too difficult or dangerous for humans. For industrial environments, this dexterity is also a key feature, as R2 has the flexibility to roll something out, hold a drill, use a pair of wire-cutters, or sort through a bin of parts. In addition, R2 can handle factory work that is ergonomically difficult, repetitious, fatiguing, or unsafe.

Safely Works Alongside Humans

R2 can do all of these things side-by-side with humans. The robot moves at human speed. Its skin is soft and padded and it can sense through its safety systems when it comes into contact with someone. There are torsion springs inside the robot that provide force control – so when a person pushes away the robot's arm, it gives easily. And the robot always knows where its limbs are, making it safe for operation around people and delicate equipment.

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Logistics and Distribution

While robotic technologies are already being used in logistics and distribution, R2 allows for much more complex and delicate operations that require a more sophisticated level of interaction. In terms of handling inventory, R2's dexterous systems allow it to handle a multitude of oddly shaped or delicate items. In addition, it can perform in close proximity to humans, allowing for the use of robotics in areas where it's not currently safe or practical.



Because General Motors explicitly designed R2 to meet the specifications of the factory floor, Robonaut is ideally suited for industrial applications. The robot's ability to retool and vary its tasks offers an enormous advantage in a manufacturing environment. R2 can operate equipment and machines designed for humans, like drills or forklifts. It can turn a gear knob, spin a wheel, fold a piece of fabric, or flip a switch. R2 can also be used in scenarios where dangerous chemicals, biological, or nuclear materials are part of the manufacturing process or in the facility environment.



R2 technologies can aid in a variety of medical applications, ranging from telemedicine to handling the logistics of medical procedures. Similar to the assembly line on a factory floor, a hospital environment involves repetitive tasks that are ripe for automation. R2 technologies would be advantageous during situations where a biomedical hazard poses risks to humans, such as a contagious outbreak or a combat situation. For more routine daily use, it can handle time-consuming tasks of counting, sorting, inspecting, and processing. By having a robot handle these activities, it frees up hospital staff to focus on the work that humans are best at and it also reduces the likelihood for human errors.


Hazardous, toxic, or remote environments

Robonaut 2 as a whole, or some of its components, can be an invaluable tool for land mine detection, bomb disposal, search and rescue, waste recycling, medical quarantined area, and so much more. By handling chemical and hazardous materials, R2 reduces or eliminates the need for humans to be exposed to dangerous situations. The technology can also relieve humans from the most repetitive, dangerous, and time-consuming parts of oil field work.

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How to License R2 Technologies

robonaut 2 shaking handsThe entire R2 system is made up of nearly 50 patented or patent pending technologies. These patents cover the robot's interface and controls, as well as its sensors, actuators, and mechanical parts. All of these technologies are available for licensing.

Licensing opportunities exist not only for the total R2 package, but also for licensing a single R2 technology or a small number of bundled technologies. Please contact us to learn more about licensing opportunities.

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Technologies Available for Licensing

+ Show/Hide all patent categories and abstracts

Hands category

Roboglove / Wearable Robotics category

Arms category

Sensing category

Interface and Control category

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R2 Opportunity Webcast

NASA Tech Briefs held a webinar on June 20, 2013 describing the R2 technology and licensing opportunity.
Use the "prev" and "next" arrows to skip to specific sections of the Webinar. The sections include:
Scene 1: JSC Overview, Scene 2: R2 Technical Description, Scene 3: R2 Commercial Applications,
Scene 4: Working with JSC, Scene 5: Questions and Answers

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Links to More Robonaut 2 Information

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For More Information

For more information, contact:

Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office
NASA’s Johnson Space Center (link opens new browser window)

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This technology is owned by NASA’s Johnson Space Center